Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrated the occasion of Navroz yesterday at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto where it was announced that the Ismaili CIVIC 150 initiative surpassed its pledge of service.

In keeping with the Navroz theme of optimism and hope, Ismaili Council for Canada President Malik Talib announced to Prime Minister Trudeau and the assembled crowd that the Ismaili Muslim community of Canada had surpassed its Ismaili CIVIC 150 pledge of one million hours of service for Canada.

Introduced by Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, Prime Minister Trudeau offered a message of gratitude to the Jamat, saying "I want to thank and congratulate the Canadian Ismaili Muslim community on one million hours of volunteer service to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. What a beautiful testament to your dedication to this country and all its citizens.”

Prime Minister Trudeau went on to pay tribute to the unique contributions of the community, saying "I want to thank all of you for being here today. This is always a wonderful moment for me, to come to this beautiful Centre to see friends old and new, and to celebrate a community that for me represents some of the very best of Canada."

The Ismaili CIVIC 150 initiative was launched in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Canada's 150th anniversary of confederation. The one-million-hour pledge is the cornerstone of the Ismaili CIVIC 150 initiative, rooted in the community’s commitment to improving the quality of life of all Canadians.

Launched in July 2017, Ismaili CIVIC 150 saw members of the community, across all age groups, engage in acts of service, individually and collectively. As of 21 March, 2018, the Ismaili community volunteered a total of 1,127,549 hours of service across the country, surpassing the original goal. Service partners included Habitat for Humanity, Terry Fox Foundation, the Food Bank, and Canadian Blood Services, amongst a host of others.

At the celebration, President Talib acknowledged Canada's role in fostering kindness and generosity in its citizens.

"Over the course of its history, Canada has been a fertile country of opportunity. It has encouraged people from all walks of life to plant strong roots for themselves and their families while being caringly cultivated by the kind and generous Canadian spirit" Talib said. He also noted the consonance between the values of the Ismaili community and Canada: "Over the last nine months, thousands of volunteers from Ismaili communities across our great land have engaged in a variety of activities. They have mentored others, they have cared for the elderly, they have cleaned local parks, and they have cared for public spaces. This work, shoulder-to-shoulder with our noble partners, and with our friends and neighbours in Canadian cities and towns has reminded us of what makes Canada so vibrant."

The Navroz celebration event brought together individuals from Iranian, Tajik, Afghan, Syrian, South Asian, and other nationalities and ethnicities, and provided an opportunity to share unique traditions related to the advent of Navroz or the New Year.

Navroz, a festival celebrated in many Muslim communities and cultures, particularly those belonging to the Shia, signifies a time of spiritual renewal, physical rejuvenation, and an outlook of hope and optimism. 

The festivities were an embodiment of the Canadian approach to pluralism, honouring tradition while looking forward to a brighter future, all in the striking contemporary setting of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto — itself a modern expression of Muslim values.

The Centre was full of colour and activity with performances ranging from Tajik dance and tabla music, to children's Navroz-themed activities including egg colouring and storytelling, as well as artwork on display from a wide cross-section of genres and traditions. A Haft Seen table showcased Navroz traditions of different cultures.

A number of grassroots community groups were present, including invited guests from Thorncliffe Neighborhood office, Afghan Women's Association, Don Mills Residents Association, and the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.

Yasmin Ratansi, Member of Parliament for Don Valley East, closed the afternoon event with a warm expression of gratitude to all present, and in particular to the Prime Minister for his support and encouragement of the principles of pluralism, service to others, and increased understanding.